ARLINGTON, Texas – Jason Witten's teammates aren't concerned about the abnormal drops plaguing the Cowboys' tight end the last two weeks.
While not every drop hit him right in the numbers, Witten failed to haul in multiple passes against the Seahawks and Buccaneers that he's accustomed to catching and that have made him a perennial Pro Bowler.
Witten returned earlier than anticipated from a lacerated spleen injury and caught two passes for 10 yards in the opener, before then recording two catches for eight yards against Tampa Bay.
"He's one of the best tight ends to ever play in this league," said tight end John Phillips. "He'll be fine. He's coming back from the (injury), but he's good, mentally. He's getting his body back in shape. He'll be fine."
Still, Phillips admitted the drops are unusual.
"Most times he goes a whole season without stuff like that," Phillips said. "But he's a professional, a true pro."
Witten didn't make himself available after the win Sunday, but quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Miles Austin talked about their lack of concern with the tight end's drops.
"No one is going to be more critical of his game than him," Austin said. "I can promise you that. I've got no concern about his work ethic or even production. He's going to do what he does, and we're lucky to have him on the team."
"Jason's as good a player as there is at his position in the league," Romo said. "I think that Jason sets such a standard for himself and everybody is shocked if he doesn't play perfect."
Austin In Groove
After missing the entire preseason with a hamstring injury, Miles Austin has calmed many of the skeptics who feared the injury was a sign that the receiver would struggle to see the field in the regular season. Through three games Austin has quietly emerged as the go-to receiver for Tony Romo and has managed to make momentum-changing plays at just the right moments.
In Sunday's win over the Buccaneers, Austin caught five passes for a total of 107 yards. While it was his first outing of the season where he did not record a touchdown, in a game where offense was a struggle to come by at times, Austin's ability to run precise routes and get open was of huge importance to Tony Romo, who barely had the time to stay upright before finding his receivers.
At one point in the fourth quarter, Austin hurt his ribs and was forced to leave the game. However, he was back on the field the very next series to make a 17-yard reception after running a crossing pattern across the middle on his first play back. He talked about the injury after the game.
"Ah, (I'm) a little banged up," Austin said. "I feel pretty good, so, I don't know. I kind of came down on them (his ribs) and I don't know if the ball was underneath me or his hand was underneath me, but I feel better."
Through three games, Austin has 14 catches for 243 yards and two touchdowns.
- *Jonathan Auping *
- Sunday's win was the 450th regular season win in Dallas Cowboys franchise history. The club became the 13th NFL team with 450 or more wins.
- Sunday's victory also allowed Dallas to improve to 37-16-1 in home openers.
- The Dallas defense yielded just 166 yards, which is the fewest yards allowed since giving up 129 against Philadelphia on Oct. 9, 2005.
- Miles Austin's five catches Sunday upped his career total to 225 to pass Ron Springs for 16th on the club's all-time receptions list.
- Austin also recorded his 13th career 100-yard game with 107 yards.
- Austin's107 yards gave him 3,735 for his career to pass*Tony Dorsett (3,432) and Lance Rentzel (3,521) for 11th on the club's all-time receptions list. He now needs 28 yards to get into the top 10. *
- Dez Bryant's six receptions gave him 121 for his career to pass Robert Newhouse (120) for 38th in franchise history.
- Sean Lee had the first interception of the season for the Dallas defense. It was the seventh pick of his career, the most among linebackers since 2010.
- Orie Lemon made his NFL debut and recovered a muffed punt in the second quarter. Lemon's recovery led to a Dan Bailey field goal.
- Fourth-round pick Kyle Wilberalso made his NFL debut and played on special teams.
- DeMarco Murray's 18 rushes upped his career total to 214, as he became the 27th Dallas Cowboy with 200 career rushes.
- DeMarcus Ware'stwo sacks upped his club record of multiple-sack games to 25.
- Ware also forced a fumble on both of his sacks to give him 29 forced fumbles for his career, a club record.
- Tony Romois now 4-0 as a starter when playing the Bucs, but threw his first interception against Tampa Bay in his career. He now has 11 touchdown passes and one pick against the Bucs.
- Jason Witten's eight yards gave him 7,985 for his career and allowed him to overtake Ozzie Newsome (7,980) for third on the NFL's all-time tight ends receiving yards list.
- The Cowboys are now 2-0 this year when committing 13 penalties or more. They had just five in last week's loss.